Tahlequah Daily Press


March 14, 2014

Divorce offensive link between judicial, politicians’ salaries

TAHLEQUAH — We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, with extra emphasis: Most of Oklahoma’s high-ranking public officials don’t deserve the salaries for which they’re currently bleeding taxpayers. And they certainly don’t deserve raises.

It’s funny how elected officials always manage to turn up sleazy, under-the-table ways of enriching themselves, at the expense of the suckers who foolishly voted them into office. Under current law, the pay of state officials is married to judicial salaries; if the latter get raises, so do the former.

This is a ridiculous notion, and State Rep. Mike Brown had introduced two bills to split up this unholy couple. HB 2923 would have filed the divorce and set specific pay for officials, but predictably, it was put in the corner like an unruly child. House Joint Resolution 1087 would have allowed the Legislature to nix the judicial pay hike altogether – an even better idea. One of these measures is still alive, though floundering in the brackish pond of cronyism.

Gov. Mary Fallin has said she supports the move to unlink the salaries. That’s a wise political gambit, since she’s running for re-election – and since her salary is the same as that of the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s chief justice. If events unfold as planned, the governor would get a $17,640-a-year pay boost – more than many Okies scrape by on in a year.

State-level mucky-mucks with black robes and gavels haven’t had raises since 2006, but most average folks will find it hard to muster any sympathy. Nevertheless, the Board on Judicial Compensation generously recommended a whopping 12 percent raise for state judges. That means the chief justice would get $164,640 a year – and so would Fallin, or her successor.

With associate justice pay hiked to $154,174, the lieutenant governor would get a $13,766 raise. The Attorney General would see an increase of $15,939 to match the $148,764 pay of the civil appeals court presiding judge. Perhaps most obscene is the state superintendent of public instruction’s bump of almost $15,000 to $139,298. The unpopular Janet Barresi must be excited enough over that possibility to need a box of diapers, and who could blame her?

Incidentally, the corporation commissioners, state treasurer, state auditor and inspector, and state insurance commissioners would be $13,766 richer next year. The labor commissioner, poor thing, would be riding drag with a mere $12,606 in new windfall.

It would be nice if the Oklahoma public had any say in what their elected and judicial officials are paid. As it is, the gap between what those elitists are taking home, and what the average Oklahoman must scrape by on, is getting wider with each passing year.

The truth is, these “public servants” may show up for work, but they’re as much a part of the entitlement class as the average welfare recipient. With the economy as it is today, even if they’re among the rare taxpayer teat-suckers who does an exemplary job, they don’t need raises. And if they get them, voters should toss them out on their fannies at the next available opportunity. Actually, we should probably do that, anyway. It’s time to clean house.

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  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014


Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
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